Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

PREFACES AND INTRODUCTIONS.

PREFACE

TO

4 TRANSLATION OF

THE MEMOIRS OF A PROTESTANT, CONDEMNED

TO THE GALLEYS OF FRANCE FOR HIS RELIGION: WRITTEN BY

HIMSELF.

The praise by which a translator attempts to advance the reputation of his original is usually considered as an indirect claim to applause on his own account. Though he may not stand in the full lustre of his own panegyric, yet such are his connections with his author, that he receives it by reflection, and tacitly compliments himself at least for judgment in his choice. Assurances on his part, however, seldom influence the approbation of the public, but frequently incur its contempt; for if he be so unfortunate as to fail in his promises, falsehood is added to swell the number of his other imperfections.

Sensible of this truth, it is not expected to enhance the excellencies or palliate the faults of the succeeding Memoir. The public will scarcely be influenced in their judgment by an obscure prefacer; and perhaps the work might rather suffer by his misplaced admiration. To confess a truth, he hardly knows how to introduce it to the public attention, and even to procure it a reading, among the multiplicity of modern publications.

Perhaps what he thinks its excellencies, may be considered as defects: what he hopes may give it popularity, will contribute

* (This translation came out early in the year 1758. See Life, ch. vii.)

to assign it to neglect. Thus, for instance, it cannot be recommended as a grateful entertainment to the numerous readers of reigning romance, as it is strictly true. No events are here to astonish; no unexpected incidents to surprise; no such highfinished pictures, as captivate the imagination and have made fiction fashionable. Our reader must be content with the simple exhibition of truth, and consequently of nature; he must be satisfied to see vice triumphant and virtue in distress; to see men punished or rewarded, not as his wishes, but as Providence has thought proper to direct; for all here wears the face of sin. cerity.

His keeping himself concealed may probably to some appear suspicious; yet let it be considered, that were this the work of fiction, nothing could have been easier than to invent fictitious names also; a practice almost universally adopted by those who are indebted to invention alone for their materials : but such the author chose to imitate in nothing; and his conduct in the present case is a proof of the authenticity of his performance.

As there are little hopes of pleasing those who delight in improbabilities, so there is another class of readers whom it is as little expected to satisfy. Those who upon hearing that the author suffered persecution with constancy, may expect also to find him talk upon all occasions likė our enthusiasts; who attach formal phrase and disgusting ejaculation to their ideas of religion; and imagine that every part of history which serves to amuse, is certainly an infringement on piety. Such he cannot expect to have for his admirers; so that, between the lovers of an idle tale and the partisans of cant and formality, the translator elmost trembles for his author's reception.

As he expressed his fears, permit him to express his hopes also: and if there be any reader who can for a moment lay aside romance for history, who can prefer a picture taken from nature

« ZurückWeiter »